Sporty Yet Comfortable

OHLALA SPENT THE DAY IN THE NEW AUDI S3 SPORTBACK, A BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED, TECH-LADEN MODEL, THAT IS SURE TO TAKE THE PREMIUM COMPACT CAR SEGMENT BY STORM.

Many years of test-driving upmarket motor vehicles have led OHLALA to develop serious feelings for the Audi brand. After all, what’s not to love about this German-based, high-end car manufacturer? They consistently produce some of the finest vehicles to grace our roads – models always at the cutting edge of performance, safety and style.

Having already experienced the Audi A5 Coupé, the Audi RS7 and the Audi e-tron Sportback 55 Quattro in recent years, we were most excited when invited by Audi Centre Bahrain to try out the new Audi S3 Sportback, the brand’s latest competitor in the premium compact market segment.

DYNAMIC EXTERIOR

At first glance, we were captivated by the S3 Sportback’s spirited appearance. With its athletic shape and Python Yellow Metallic paintwork, we felt the car would look as comfortable in the Fast and Furious franchise as it would out on the roads.

Grabbing our collective attention from the get-go was the broad, low-positioned single frame with its large rhombus-patterned grille in matte black, gracefully housing the gloss black Audi logo at its centre. Imposing air inlets flanking the grille hint at the on-road intentions of this aerodynamic machine, while the sleek headlights are perfectly shaped, adding to the sporty prowess of the model.

Shifting our attention to the sides, we noted that the shoulder of the body extends in a pronounced line from head to tail, with the areas below curved inward to place a stronger emphasis on the wheel arches.

Housed beneath are 18-inch wheels with an attractive five-twin-spoke V design. We loved how the C-pillars of the Sportback appear to give the entire vehicle a forward thrust, further adding to the powerful presence of the S3.

At the back end, the heavily contoured diffuser was instantly noticeable, with the four distinctive exhaust tailpipes emphasising the car’s dynamic presence. Our favourite rear component, however, had to be the long roof edge spoiler that accentuates the muscular shape and width of the vehicle.

“No matter where we looked, precise horizontal lines and cleanly designed surfaces dominated the internal layout.”

PROGRESSIVE INTERIOR

Slipping into the multi-adjustable front seats of the S3, we appreciated how the bold design and striking three-dimensional details of the exterior continued inside.

No matter where we looked, precise horizontal lines and cleanly designed surfaces dominated the internal layout. The expertly crafted instrument panel sits perfectly in position, underscored by a horizontal décor surface that runs the entire width, only interrupted by the steering wheel column.

Designed in sporty anthracite tones, we could only identify top-quality materials throughout the interior. Aluminium and carbon are used as decorative inlays, while the door armrests and instrument panels feature contrasting stitching. We loved the illuminated door sill trims and the coloured edging around the floor mats. Additional design details included the S embossing in the front seat backrests, black headlining and stainless-steel pedals, along with the contrasting stitching and S emblem of the flat-bottomed sports steering wheel.

Despite the sleek and aerodynamic shape of the exterior, the interior of the S3 Sportback is surprisingly spacious. In the cockpit, we enjoyed oodles of leg, arm and headroom and in the back, we found the seating to provide sufficient comfort space, even for longer journeys.

The luggage compartment provides 325 litres of storage space – a capacity increased to 1,145 litres with the rear seats folded flat. The loading floor can be inserted at different heights, with the tailgate opening and closing with a simple foot motion. These characteristics ensure the sporty S3 is not just a pretty face but practical for everyday use.

TOP-NOTCH TECH

Although we cannot sing the praises of the new S3 Sportback’s exterior and interior designs loudly enough, it is the outstanding tech the brand has included that deserves the most attention.

The first thing we noticed about the displays and controls of the new Sportback is that Audi have dispensed with the analogue instruments and rotary pushbutton of its predecessor.

The new main unit is the third generation of the modular infotainment platform (MIB 3). We were impressed with the speed and user-friendly nature of this setup. Providing 10 times more computing power than the MIB 2, it also works with the Online Connectivity Unit (OCU), fitted with an integrated SIM card and a wi-fi module. The OCU performs all connectivity-related tasks, including fast data transfer.

We accessed the infotainment system through the central 10.1-inch touch display, featuring acoustic feedback as standard. This also applies to the digital instrument cluster, with its 10.25-inch diagonal display operated via the multifunction steering wheel. Furthermore, with MMI Navigation Plus installed, the displays appear in the Audi virtual cockpit, a feature boasting many of its own additional functions. Upon customer request, the S3 can also be equipped with a state-of-the-art head-up display.

Other must-mention tech features include the Audi smartphone interface that can establish contact with the customers’ iOS and Android smartphones, transferring their Apple CarPlay or Android Auto environment to the MMI display.

Safety-wise, it’s no surprise Audi have equipped their new Sportback with a full suite of driver assistance and safety features. These include, but are not limited to, adaptive cruise assist, collision avoidance assist, efficiency assist, emergency assist, turn assist, park assist, lane change warning, exit warning and cross-traffic assist rear. Additionally, the car itself features a modern, crash-resistant body design.

POWER, PERFORMANCE & SAFETY

As good-looking as the S3 is, it’s a purely performance-orientated machine on the tarmac. Engaging the ignition, we were all smiles at the roars of the 2.0 TFSI inline four-cylinder engine. Capable of producing 226kW of power and 400Nm of torque, this two-litre racer can accelerate from 0-100km/h in around 4.9 seconds and delivers an electronically capped top speed of 250km/h. When seated behind the steering wheel, this compact car seemed even faster.

The seven-speed S tronic transmission means lightning-fast gear shifts that add greatly to the responsive nature of the vehicle. With the Audi drive select dynamic handling system equipped as standard, combined with an ultra-efficient braking system, we found the new Sportback to exhibit excellent handling. This meant we always felt in complete control, even when cornering trickier bends at decent speeds. Add a sporty yet taut suspension system to the equation, along with five driving modes and you have a customisable vehicle suited to both on-track and everyday driving conditions.

We must mention that thanks to careful soundproofing and sophisticated aeroacoustics, it was always peaceful inside the car as we watched the kilometres roll silently by.

For more information or to book a test drive of your own,
please call Audi Centre Bahrain on 1745 9933.
@audibahrain

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